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Outdoors Q&A: Is a License Needed to Fish at Alameda Rock Wall?

It is considered a public pier, so no license is required for recreational fishing

The Alameda rock wall within the San Francisco Bay is considered a public pier for fishing purposes.
The Alameda rock wall within the San Francisco Bay is considered a public pier for fishing purposes. (Peter Tira / California Department of Fish and Wildlife)

Question: My questions have to do with the Alameda rock wall located behind Encinal High School in Alameda (Alameda County). Is a California fishing license required at the Alameda rock wall? I’ve heard some say that it is considered a public pier and would not require a license. Also, how many poles (lines) are you allowed to have per angler at the rock wall? Some have said one because Alameda is part of the San Francisco Bay. Others have said that the Alameda rock wall is a jetty, so therefore two poles are allowed. I want to make sure that I’m following all California Department of Fish and Wildlife laws when I want to bring new friends into the sport. (Luan T.)

Answer: We appreciate the efforts of experienced fishers to teach their friends and younger generations about fishing and help them gain an appreciation for the outdoors. Public piers are excellent places to take beginners who may be apprehensive about trying to go fishing for the first time. No license is needed when fishing off the Alameda rock wall as it is considered a public pier. In fact, a fishing license is not needed when fishing recreationally from any public pier in California’s ocean waters.

A public pier is defined in the sport fishing regulations as a publicly owned, man-made structure that has the following characteristics: is connected, above the mean high tide, to the main coastline or to the land mass of a named and charted natural island; has unrestricted free access for the general public; and has been built or currently functions for the primary purpose of allowing angling access to ocean waters (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 1.88). Additionally, publicly owned jetties or breakwaters that are connected to land, as described above, that have free, unrestricted access for the general public and whose purpose it is to form the most seaward protective boundary of an ocean harbor are public piers. Jetties, breakwaters, promenades, sea walls, moles, docks, linings, barriers and other structures that are not the most seaward protective boundary of an ocean harbor are not public piers.

You are correct that the Alameda rock wall is within the San Francisco Bay (see California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 27.00 for the definition) and therefore has the restriction of allowing only one line with not more than three hooks when fishing for finfish (CCR Title 14, section 28.65(a)). Furthermore, the Alameda rock wall is a publicly accessible jetty so it falls under the definition of a public pier. If you are fishing for finfish from the Alameda rock wall, you can use one line with not more than three hooks, and a second line attached to a net or trap to take other fish, such as rock crab.

Even though a fishing license is not required on a public pier, all other regulations (including minimum size, bag limits, seasons and report card requirements) apply. Good luck, and have fun fishing with your friends!

Making sense of the Kern River regulations

Q: I’m from Bakersfield, and I see in the regulations that there is a portion of the Kern River that is open to fishing year-round. Does this also include streams that flow into the Kern River? Also, if you are practicing catch-and-release, can you fish for trout when the season is closed? (Cody G.)

A: Cody, you are correct in that the portion of the Kern River from Lake Isabella north to the Johnsondale Bridge is open to trout fishing year-round. However, the other waters in that part of Tulare County, including the streams that flow into the Kern River, fall under the general regulations for the Sierra Sport Fishing District and are open only the last Saturday in April through Nov. 15. If you have specific questions about particular streams, you can always check the Trout, Salmon and Special Regulations portion of the 2017-18 Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations, which will list individual waters, such as the Kern River, with special fishing regulations. If the specific stream you are curious about is not listed, then that stream falls under the general regulations of that particular sport fishing district.

Please be aware that the Kern River above the Johnsondale Bridge is a special regulation water that is open to trout fishing the last Saturday in April to Nov. 15 with restricted limits and minimum size requirements, and only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used.

In regard to your other question, you cannot fish for trout in any fashion when the season is closed to trout fishing. The portions of the Kern River that close to trout fishing are also closed to fishing for all other fish species with the exception of fishing for amphibians, freshwater clams, crayfish and lampreys. When fishing for these other species, however, no hook-and-line methods are allowed during the closed trout season.

— Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish & Wildlife. She can be reached at [email protected].

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